What a strange week this is turning into. There is some exciting stuff going on, which hopefully will become clear in the next week or so. There is also the almost unbearable tension building ahead of Sunday’s visit to the Hawthorns. Throw into the mix a week of incredible activity on social media sites, and last night’s unexpected (for me anyway) viewing of Fever Pitch on Film Four and is it any wonder our hormones are all over the place?
Sunday really is the only thing that I can truly concentrate on despite valiant attempts at distraction by so many elsewhere. For the third time a generation of Gooners face the prospect of finishing behind our friends and neighbours. That generation has never known such an event. Sunday for them will be a day of destiny. Will the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride through the tunnel at the final whistle, or will the valiant St Totteringham slay them for a seventeenth consecutive year and spark another wild celebration?
If we are celebrating our favourite Saints Day on Sunday evening it will be the latest ever, beating May 12th 1984 by a day. In the Arsene Wenger era we have faced this prospect on the last day twice before. Nobody will forget the events of 2006 when we bowed out of Highbury with a come-from-behind win over Wigan Athletic, going pasta our neighbours courtesy of their tribulations at West Ham. Fewer will recall, I suspect, that a similar prospect was looming just two years ago. Fortunately a weakened Fulham arrived at the Grove with one eye very much on their upcoming Europa League Final and we knocked four past them while Burnley were doing the same to Tottenham at Turf Moor.
It is worth remembering we were very much looking at an early cancellation of the feast at ten past two on February 26th. Two down in the North London derby, and facing a thirteen point deficit , the Gunners were sparked into life by a Bacary Sagna header. Just over an hour later Robin van Persie and his men walked off to the mother and father of ovations after a remarkable 5-2 win.
In truth we have only ourselves to blame for having not already sealed third place given the Lilywhites spectacular collapse since then. We have been matching them slip-up for slip-up since Mikel Arteta limped off just eight minutes into the Wigan home game. Four without a victory despite having no midweek distractions. Let’s not forget a third side is involved in the shake-up on Sunday, with Newcastle praying for both North London clubs to crash.
I have swayed wildly from calm optimism to full-on jibbering wreck of doom, and at the end of the day that is what makes football simply irresistible. Every emotion is experienced following the fortunes of your club. Is this the time that a new generation discovers what will feel like the ultimate disappointment? I think not, really. But if it does happen I’ll give you a clue. These last seventeen years have felt all the sweeter because of the eighteen times it didn’t happen in my forty-fifteen years on the planet. Have a skinful, stay away from Twitter, and you’ll find the desire to get back in the saddle in August will soon return.
I’ll be back on Friday night, ‘holics, with a confident forecast for the final ‘holic pound of the season. Stay chilled, and if you want to read up some more on St Totteringhams Day, then click here to see Mike Pitt’s invaluable goldmine of data.
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